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How secure are corporate jobs - really
Old 06-03-2008, 08:05 PM   #1
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How secure are corporate jobs - really

In an earlier post someone made this comment which got me thinking:

"Past 50, you probably don't have to worry about being laid off in less than dire circumstances where you currently are. You may have to expect a much higher likelihood of being laid off at a new company where you won't have much time in and may not be able to find another by that age. Risks only rise with age."

I've only worked in a big corporation for the past 7 years (small companies prior). the Company I'm with now is $10B and growing (through aquisitions) we end up competing against ourselves as we continue to aquire more companies.

What are your experiences in large corporations?
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Old 06-03-2008, 08:14 PM   #2
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Too many fingers in the pie and miles of red tape.

There is risk to everyone. Times are changing.
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Old 06-03-2008, 08:27 PM   #3
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My experiece is that one's "layoff potential" is same at large and small companies.

Small companies are more "whimisical" - I've seen good people get laid off because owner didn't like them or like how they dress.

However big companies have "wrong place at the wrong time" risks - I've seen great performers get let go because they were in the wrong job at the wrong time.

Biggest "defense" is to keep yourself marketable - internally and externally. Pretty obvoius stuff: develop good contacts, education credentials, broad skills base, etc
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Old 06-03-2008, 08:28 PM   #4
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What are your experiences in large corporations?
- Hierarchy (too many chiefs (VPs) and not enough people to do actual work.
- Paperwork and rigorous procedures and policy.
- Politics are rampant (not that small companies are any less).
- Cross-functional influence or B.S. is the key to climb the ladder.
- Pay and benefits are usually better than those of small companies.
- Justifications are usually required to get rid of people.
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Old 06-03-2008, 08:39 PM   #5
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I do second DelawareDave's observation that small companies can be run like little kingdoms because there is no check and balance. In large companies, the rules to get rid of people are more strict. You can't fire somebody simply because you don't like them.

However, to look for job security is kind of a waste of time exercise because there is no such thing.
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Old 06-03-2008, 09:24 PM   #6
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I do second DelawareDave's observation that small companies can be run like little kingdoms because there is no check and balance. In large companies, the rules to get rid of people are more strict. You can't fire somebody simply because you don't like them.

However, to look for job security is kind of a waste of time exercise because there is no such thing.
Both Dave and Buns have it right. Things are much more subjective in small companies. Your future might ride on what one person thinks ... and that one person might not even be qualified to judge your "worthiness", yet he is in a position to do so anyway.

There is very little security anywhere these days. Larger companies tend to have better benefits while you are there, and better separation packages when they must purge you. Small companies ... anything goes ... I like the "little kingdom" description.
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Old 06-03-2008, 11:09 PM   #7
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I have mostly large company experience, but I've seen am amazing number os stupid things, bad behavior, and political assasinations. It's a shark tank. So, large companies are no protection. I've seen people go from "golden buy" to "dirt" in minutes when they trip over the wrong thing or say the wrong thing at the wrong time. The comment about being marketable and constant networking is a good one. Negotiate all you can upon hiring. I've done best when I had two or three offers at the same time which caused offers to escalate during negotiations.

I think that the most amazing Charade in our society is that managers in large and small companies alike demand and assume loyalty from you, and yet they will provide no loyalty to you and your job can still be cut loose at any time and they consider it fair. If it hasn't happened to you then I'll bet you saw it done. I think your best bet is to just start your own company.
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Old 06-04-2008, 07:02 AM   #8
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Ok - at small companies you are at the whim of the owner. (I've seen that)

Big Companies - lots of politics - I see that. Does th HR department minimizes the "Fire on a whim" factor. How and by how much?
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Old 06-04-2008, 07:11 AM   #9
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Large companies offer older workers buy out packages (or make the package favor older workers - longer service = larger package). I is difficult to prove age discrimination unless you can show a pattern of it - not just your case.

I think the idea of security/loyality is really an old idea from the 1950/60's that really only applies to a select few of very large companies at their hight - think IBM & GE.
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Old 06-04-2008, 07:41 AM   #10
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However, to look for job security is kind of a waste of time exercise because there is no such thing.
Ding, ding, ding!!!
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Old 06-04-2008, 08:11 AM   #11
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I had worked for the same MegaCorp for 25 years. The group I was in was good and we really had our act together, until the powers that be decided that we should all be outsourced to save costs.
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Old 06-04-2008, 08:18 AM   #12
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Big Companies - lots of politics - I see that. Does th HR department minimizes the "Fire on a whim" factor. How and by how much?
Reorg "to remain competitive". Current company, anyone with a certain title was laid off even if they and I were doing the same work. They're allowed to apply for a newly created title. Some of them would end up taking pay cuts. (n the top 20 largest companies in the world)

Previous company. We had a much flatter title structure. HR determined that layoffs of certain skillsets within the title would not be an issue even if the same title was open in other groups. It was mostly 'legacy' programming skills that were chopped and, subsequently, ended up being slightly older workers. An age discrimination suite came out of that one but I don't recall anything coming of it. (in the S&P 100)

There is no 'fire on a whim' in megacorp. The paper trail alone will cause most managers to simply push poor performers off on to other teams. It's a big game of hide the poo. In the right position, a poor performer could probably bounce around a megacorp for quite a few years.

edit: For my working career, I've thought of myself as a contractor. Mentally, the difference between a W-2 or 1099 position, for me, is about who pays benefits and the employer side of taxes. I evaluate all positions through that lens. As a result, I still provide a lot of value where I work (you wouldn't keep a bad contractor around), but I'm not one for company events. This jives well with my strong desire to stay out of management. It might be extreme (FIL, who has 15 with the same company can't understand why my generation job-hops so much)... but it's served me well.
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Old 06-04-2008, 08:41 AM   #13
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edit: For my working career, I've thought of myself as a contractor. Mentally, the difference between a W-2 or 1099 position, for me, is about who pays benefits and the employer side of taxes. I evaluate all positions through that lens. As a result, I still provide a lot of value where I work (you wouldn't keep a bad contractor around), but I'm not one for company events. This jives well with my strong desire to stay out of management. It might be extreme (FIL, who has 15 with the same company can't understand why my generation job-hops so much)... but it's served me well.
Funny, this is almost to a word how I think of my career. Dad, who was always an entrepreneur has no idea what to think.
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Old 06-04-2008, 10:00 AM   #14
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There is very little security anywhere these days. Larger companies tend to have better benefits while you are there, and better separation packages when they must purge you. Small companies ... anything goes ... I like the "little kingdom" description.
In my view, it's especially sad when those who are loyal to their large or small company don't get the same degree of loyalty in return. I guess that kind of employer-employee relationship has been relegated to our distant past.

Often one hears about the aging federal work force. But it only makes sense, when outside companies provide such little job security for those over 50. Some people move into federal employment for the job security, which is comparatively high after the probationary period. Federal employment has its negative aspects, but job security is usually pretty decent.
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Old 06-04-2008, 10:08 AM   #15
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Within the private section, I think "job security" is just an illusion. In small companies you may be more exposed to individual persons whims, but in large ones you may fall a victim to never ending re-orgs and re-alignments.

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Originally Posted by cvoz View Post
...<snip> "Past 50, you probably don't have to worry about being laid off in less than dire circumstances where you currently are. You may have to expect a much higher likelihood of being laid off at a new company where you won't have much time in and may not be able to find another by that age. Risks only rise with age." <snip>...
I disagree that 50+ employees who opted to "stay put" with an employer for a long time are "safe". I have seen scores of folks being let go within days/weeks from pension eligibility, all the while the company was making significant profits (albeit less than originally fore casted). The reason? In my opinion, their large salaries (was presented as no longer needing that particular title/function).

It may be different in your field, I am in high tech computer world and, in my opinion, older employees are not treated as an asset, but rather as a liability. Also, due solely to their age, they are considered not to be (and unable to be) on the "bleeding edge". Consequently, such employees are less desirable. I am not saying this is true for all people/companies, but it is not far a fetched outcome for many. I fully expect I (or DH) will be outsourced or laid off at least one more time...

Personally, all of the above motivated us to shoot for FI.

Edit: As a side note... in the computer programing world, ones biggest asset is their resume. I have seen folks neglecting their skills (and their marketability) in order to hang on to the current paycheck. What a mistake. They have quickly outdated themselves, greatly reduced their future employment options and now are feeling "trapped" and at the mercy of their MegaCorp.
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Old 06-04-2008, 10:15 AM   #16
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I have worked in a couple megacorps myself. However, I was always in the sales area and not a true 100% salaried position.

The VP of sales at one place I worked at had an interesting perspective, he said that the LAST folks to be let go are in sales and accounting. His reasoning was that you need sales to keep paying the bills and accounting to pay those bills..........
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Old 06-04-2008, 10:22 AM   #17
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My company (LARGE, LARGE company) jibes with what Marquette said as well. The paper trail to fire someone for cause is so difficult no one gets fired - I mean NO ONE! But lay offs can happen at any time. Our company has even developed a process whereby all the bad engineers get pushed into test and a couple other crap buckets. Then when layoffs come, they can 25-50% of those groups, take the bottom quartile of the engineers and move them into those groups. Rinse and repeat. The good news is if you are on the track to getting fired, you've got six to 24 months notice unless your head is...in the ground. Recently my company has been giving 10 weeks severance packages for those laid off, not bad. So mega corp can provide some softening of the blow.
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Old 06-04-2008, 10:36 AM   #18
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...Our company has even developed a process whereby all the bad engineers get pushed into test and a couple other crap buckets. Then when layoffs come, they can 25-50% of those groups, take the bottom quartile of the engineers and move them into those groups. Rinse and repeat. ...
laurencewill, this made me laugh! I have an even better alternative for you... why lay off someone (and shell out $$ for severance/unemployment) if you can push them out? Imagine an "urgent customer care" unit - developers in this unit do nothing but work on bug fixes and miserable customer calls 24-7, 60+ hours per week. The unit has a one way door - in! How long do you think you would work there before quitting (assuming your resume is good enough to land another job)?
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Old 06-04-2008, 03:52 PM   #19
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laurencewill, this made me laugh! I have an even better alternative for you... why lay off someone (and shell out $$ for severance/unemployment) if you can push them out? Imagine an "urgent customer care" unit - developers in this unit do nothing but work on bug fixes and miserable customer calls 24-7, 60+ hours per week. The unit has a one way door - in! How long do you think you would work there before quitting (assuming your resume is good enough to land another job)?
LOL, we HAVE that group, and those people still don't leave! It reminds me of a Dilbert where they can't fire anyone, so the boss assigns the loser the task of being bitten by wild dogs. The loser says to Dilbert "5 years until I'm vested."
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Over 50 makes it difficult to lay off
Old 06-04-2008, 03:55 PM   #20
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Over 50 makes it difficult to lay off

without ending up with a discrimination suit. Difficult to pursue, but it is usually worth a settlement to save on costs. A separation package frequently adds years and vesting of any retirement benefits. Often they are spared just to avoid the trouble. That is about as secure as it gets.

As far as 'staying current', it is pretty much a joke. You have as much utility as an entry level person with the same skills, but since you have a much larger salary, the only way to really stay current is take a large cut in pay to remain competitive but even this is frowned on as you would not be 'happy'. Experience tends to be viewed as an irrelevant expense than any useful value. Many large companies operate just like this. It is up or out, and if you haven't been promoted in the last two years, you had better start looking elsewhere.
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